Stories from middle America

Never underestimate the power of a clothing exchange. You can purge your closet of unloved clothing and bring it to new life with fresh garments — all in one fell swoop.

That’s why Heather and I decided we needed to host one. We were each tired of standing in front of our closets on a daily basis with glazed-over eyes, empty of all inspiration.

Heather offered up her photography studio as a space for the event, and I offered up the mixing of a cocktail. One Facebook invite later… voilà!

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The system of a successful clothing swap

When our guests arrived, they traded in their clothes for tickets with which to “buy” other clothes. We had three ticket levels:

  • Thrifty ($0-$25)
  • Moderate ($25-$75)
  • Splurge ($75+)

To make the shopping fair and fun, we had an upgrade system! Three Thrifty tickets obviously got you three Thrifty items, or you could use all three to get one Splurge item. Two Thrifty tickets got you one Moderate item. Alternatively, if you had one splurge ticket, you could pick out three Thrifty items or two Moderate pieces. Get the idea?

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Of course, we had jewelry in the mix, as well as shoes. The jewelry was kind of a steal. You could trade one Thrifty ticket for four pieces of jewelry!

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After all of our guests had spent all their tickets and drank at least one mixed cocktail, they left with new ideas and new inspiration. Heather and I gathered up anything that hadn’t found a new home and bagged them up to deliver to Goodwill. Nothing like a full recycle of these no-longer-worn clothes!

The night was such a success that we plan to have the event again. Be sure to watch for the invite so you and your unwanted clothes can attend!

It was a Monday, and Mondays are my day to work from home. Working from home usually equals me makeup-less in my PJs, sipping coffee at my computer. So you can imagine my surprise when I received a compliment from a stranger when I ran an errand to the post office on a Monday. In drop-crotch sweatpants, no less.

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“Can I give you a compliment?” the man asked. “You are beautiful.” Of course, that simple statement took my breath away, but it also sparked a whole lot of thinking. Thinking about my style, my life and my fashion.

I believe a stranger complimenting me on a day I chose a mediocre outfit is the direct result of small steps I’ve been taking lately to really, truly like the person I’m dressing. Purposeful steps to make my style so much more than fashion.

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Let me elaborate a bit. I’ve always been one to stay up on trends in the fashion world. Not too terribly long ago, I used that as a shield. You know, “if I have that particular dress I will feel better.” But at the end of the day, the dress never really made me feel better. It was a Band-Aid.

I’m not exactly sure what sparked things in my mind to align toward loving myself. But something’s changed my North Star. My point. My point is now to be wholly myself and live my life with the intent to be exactly that. So dressing myself has become a decision to express myself, not my fashion knowledge. I’m growing into a better version of myself and the need for that dress just isn’t there. Because my point is different.

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Life is good and hard and confusing and often frustrating, but what amazing discoveries it asks us to unfold. So I’ll be damned if I’m remembered for my outfits. I want to be remembered for the style with which I wore them.

I can’t sum it up any better than Caroline de Maigret in a recent Harper’s Bazaar interview:

“Fashion gets boring to talk about after five minutes, but style is so much more. I can go on about style for hours. Style is everything — culture, your personality and what you do — that’s what makes style. It’s who you are and how you want to be perceived by others.”

Photos by Amanda Rucker

I wake up after hitting snooze three times and briefly contemplate whether or not today is the day I will finally wash my hair. At first, I think it’s Sunday, but then I realize it’s Friday, which means I’m 27 minutes late getting out of bed. So nope. Not washing my hair today. Still, it’s the weekend in like eight or nine hours, which is an okay trade. This particular week has been so full with new jobs, new hours, new diets, and so on that I’ve lost my ability to decipher between days.

But I can make this work. Black jeans, black wedges, a black tee and maybe a couple extra layers should look polished enough that I can pull off a half top-knot.

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It’s not unusual for me to go four or five days without washing my hair. By that fifth day, it’s so full of product and so, well, lived-in that a top knot is the only option when there’s no time to wash it. For my recent long-bob cut, the half top-knot still does the trick.

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With winter still looming (Yes. Yes, I am the blogger dope still whining about the weather), staying warm is part of the gig. But I do love this long trench jacket I found on sale from Nasty Gal.

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The trench makes a fun pairing with this red buffalo checkered cape from Charlotte Russe.

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Don’t forget the wedge bootie by Betsey Johnson!

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And let’s have a big statement necklace from Stella & Dot to top everything off.

Tomorrow though. I’ll definitely make the time to wash my hair tomorrow.

Photos by Hooton Images

Does anyone else feel like a prisoner to our current Midwestern climate? Wearing what I want is often overruled by maintaining warmth throughout the day. I have to think in terms of layers, shedding or adding pieces as needed.

Some days I layer too much and my clothing creates a look that’s just too snug. On my feet, I seek safety in the snow over style.

Recently I’ve used accessories to brighten my mood and scenery. (Think wool or fur or bouclé.)

Take, for example, this outfit.

An all-black ensemble made unique by my choice of accessories. A wool fedora from Ascot + Hart paired with layered necklaces (a stone necklace by Heather Kita; the B necklace is a hand-me-down from my mom, Brenda) make this outfit something special.

And the pants? They add a unique flare. These pants have been quite the conversation starter with complete strangers. I had a nice older gentleman stop me to talk about his experience wearing belle bottoms in the 1970s. His story contained famous people, LA night clubs, and he even took a very bold risk telling me about his drug use. (It was a tad too much information, but a fun story nonetheless.)

How are you accessorizing to get through the cold days?

Photos by Amanda Rucker.

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